At any given time in our house, there are around ten books on active rotation in various spots - the coffee table, a basket next to the potty in Finn's room, a few in the book sling, and a few on a small shelf. All are easily accesible to little hands. The rest we keep on a shelf in a closet, waiting for their turn in the rotation.
I've had a lot of questions from other parents about what kind of books I would recommend for babies and toddlers. I've put off answering that question until now because I honestly had no clue if my own Montessori philosophy was in sync with toddler tastes or not.
Finn has made his literary preferences known. I thought I'd share them with you.
For the most part, I'm somewhat surprised that his interests are very much in sync with what we learn in Montessori training courses. He loves books about real animals, people, and objects. He prefers books that are beautifully photographed or illustrated over cartoonish books with very "loud" and busy illustrations. He adores being able to name objects that he recognizes from his daily life.
There are a few notable exceptions to this "keep-things-real" Montessori approach (which I am more than happy to oblige, being somewhat influenced by the imaginative Waldorf philosophy, too). He can't get enough of nursery rhymes, nonsensical though they may be. He loves the cadence of the language, and the subtle bouncing and knee tapping that I can't help but add when I read them aloud. In general, we both enjoy children's books that are beautifully illustrated which also contain rhythmical, lovely prose, regardless of their roots - fantastical or reality-based, we welcome them into our home.
The big shocker? Finn LOVES books about motor vehicles. Umm, hello? Have you seen our car, little boy? We are not a family that obsesses about cars, judging from the broken door handle and the logo that has fallen off the back. Not to mention the turquiose, purple, and gray interior straight out of the 80's. Where did this obsession come from? Sheesh.
**One more note about books before I get started on the list: we do not limit his books to board books that can be put in the mouth and whipped about without falling apart. His stash includes grown up photography books and books with paper pages. Every child is certainly different when it comes to their interactions with books, but from the beginning, we've been very clear with Finn that books do not belong in his mouth. It is, perhaps, the first "limit" we put on him as an older baby. There was a time when he was about a year old when he tested this limit and I temporarily removed the books from his reach. In a few days, the books returned without fanfare, and he hasn't tried to put a book in his mouth since. Perhaps another reason why he treats books with respect is that he is mimicking how I treat books: I try to exaggerate being careful with them, turning their pages slowly, and return them to their spot with a certain amount of reverence. Maybe he's just gentle with books, but in case his attitude is generated by his home environment rather than his own personality, I thought it might be helpful to share our strategy.**
Reference Books These books are collections of real images or illustrations that are categorized. At first, we would point to an image and talk about it. Then, Finn started pointing to the images he was curious about and we would name the object. Now, he tries to say the names of the objects himself.
L'imagier du Père Castor - In French, but easy to use because of the clear illustrations. Illustrations fall under various categories from daily life, from fruit and furniture to motorized vehicles and clothing.
Books about Daily Life and Animals
I hope you find some books here that will become favorites in your own family. This is just a short list, and it's limited to what we have in our own house, so I'll try to ammend it in the future to include books that we add to our collection. Happy reading!